Ranking the 2014 Pac-12 non-conference schedules: LA schools face major challenges outside of the Pac-12

Ethan Miller

USC faces the toughest non-conference slate of any Pac-12 school.

1. USC (Fresno State, at Boston College, Notre Dame)

The Trojans are keeping up their reputation of scheduling as tough as anyone in the country when it comes to non-conference. This is a far cry from the impressive gauntlets that we used to see the Trojans face, but the fact that they play a national power in Notre Dame, a road game at a BCS program and a game against one of the best non-BCS programs in the nation is impressive.

2. UCLA (at Virgina, Memphis, Texas @Arlington, TX)

The other LA school has also done a great job of maintain a challenging non-conference slate year-after-year and this year is no different. Most impressively, the Bruins basically play two-thirds of their non-conference schedule on the road, with both games against BCS schools.

3. Cal (at Northwestern, Sacramento State, BYU)

Unfortunately for Sonny Dykes, Cal has had very tough non-conference slates in his first two seasons as they try to pay for their remodeled stadium. The Bears travel to Evanston to take on a strong Northwestern program and host a BYU team that should be very good.

4. Oregon (South Dakota, Michigan State, Wyoming)

The Ducks' schedule is all about one game, but oh boy is it a big one, as they face off with Top 10 preseason and defending Rose Bowl champs Michigan State in Autzen. The Ducks don't have to leave home once, but they face the best team out of anyone in the conference in their non-conference schedule and that goes a long, long way.

5. Utah (Idaho State, Fresno State, at Michigan)

Another one with a big tough, marquee game, the Utes face a major challenge in heading to Ann Arbor and Fresno State is a very good second game even if the Bulldogs shouldn't be nearly as good as they were in 2013.

6. Stanford (UCDavis, Army, at Notre Dame)

The Cardinal are also all about one tough game - traveling to South Bend and it goes a long way. A game middle game against Army isn't terrible, but this one is very top heavy.

7. Arizona State (Weber State, at New Mexico, Notre Dame)

The Sun Devils' chance to get revenge on the Irish in Tempe is their only really tough game, but it is a decent one. Playing at New Mexico gives them a few points, but not much.

8. Washington State (Rutgers, at Nevada, Portland State)

For an improving program, the Cougars have a great non-conference slate that gives them a good, but beatable team in Rutgers and a winnable road game at Nevada against a respectable non-BCS program.

9. Washington (at Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Illinois, Georgia State)

This might be the softest non-conference schedule ever put together by Washington. A serious argument could be made that that FCS Eastern Washington could be their most challenging opponent, but realistically, it is probably Illinois.

10. Oregon State (Portland State, at Hawaii, San Diego State)

The Beavers have a comfortable out of conference slate that should challenge them just enough to where they can't coast, but should result in them starting out 3-0 rather easily.

11. Colorado (Colorado State, at UMass, Hawaii)

Far from an intimidating slate for the Buffs, but a good one for a team that needs to win as many games as possible and keep improving.

12. Arizona (UNLV, at UTSA, Nevada)

Once again, the Wildcats aren't even trying to pretend like they aren't just making sure that they start the season 3-0 and need to win just three conference games to get to a bowl.

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